Monday, August 9, 2010

Nature, Mate Choice, and Bullshit

Warning:  If you couldn't tell from the title, this post has strong language 'cause I don't feel like filtering it out.  Also, it borders on sexual content and for both reasons may not be appropriate for younger readers.

Stumbled across an angering and puzzling site today, and ending up taking a test which described my dating market value.  Pointless, because I'm not currently on the market in a realistic way and I never cared about conventional marketability re: dating anyway, being a hopeless "beta" and all--but the ways of the timesuck are never straightforward.

When I was taking this test the first time, I really, honestly thought it was being snarky and ironic, having gotten it from this blog (is in general not safe for public-setting computing, being about the sex life of a woman who has LOTS of deviant sex but writes so damn well about that and other things that I've become a regular reader), thought it was all in good oh-my-god-look-how-messed-up-this-is humor.  In re-reading the test I actually think there is a bit of snark involved...but not a lot.

The author really thinks this way, down to the "I'm going to go on an underrate all female scores by 10 cause they just can't handle the emotional shock of rejection" caveat at the bottom.  There is a whole culture of people who really think this way.

Pardon my use of language here (a trait which docked me a point on the test, but not as many as wearing sandals, while, for perpsective, being arrested for child pornography, if male, is an equal point dock), but this and the identical male test are among the most fucked up things I have seen lately.  (That's not actually true, probably, but now isn't really the time to be all literal-picky about things.)  Not really the test in itself, per-say, but the test combined with the attitude of "it's your biology, (bitch)" combined with this whole philosophy of To Get Women (Who Count) You Must Be an Asshole.  Cause those bitches will play mind games if you don't serve her what she has coming.

My score was a 20, but I guessed a lot, since pages were devoted to rating female beauty and I don't know if you'd consider my eyes big saucers or small and beady, or how long my jawline is, or whatever, so I just put "average" pretty much anywhere.  Go on and knock that down by 10 cause women just can't be trusted to evaluate themselves objectively without overrating their worth (but men apparently can) and I'm in the range of classic beta.  I'm no looker, but I could apparently snag a guy outside of my category if I "tramped it up."

I took the male test on account of my SigFig (he would never allow himself to be timesucked by such silliness, so I had to guess at it for him) and he got beta too, so look at us being two peas in a pod. As a beta he is a far, far cry from the the Stereotypical Sexually Frustrated Blame The Women Who Fuck All the Alphas Nice Guy and was way before I met him--but the part of this that passes itself off as Science! is about reductionist trends, not individual anecdotes.

To be fair, I labeled this as pseudoscience not because of the "woman want high-status-men men want eye-candy-women" underpinnings, rather because this site and others like it claim to share to sexually frustrated males the Science Of Finding Women to Date Fuck: Try Treating Those Bitches Like the Exchangeable Stupid Commodities They Are And See Your Magic Results You Poor Frustrated Sots.  I won't deny that "game" works on some women, and if those women aren't me then what do I know I'm just a beta and all my friends are probably just betas too--but when "game" also includes things like belittling a woman's boundaries, assuming "no I don't like you" is really just a test saying "try harder" while at the same time never daring to look too interested in her even when she is blatantly interested in you (see the behavioral section of the male test)--that's a recipe for not much happiness for all and is even delving into that rape-culture-no-means-yes stuff.  (Sidenote:  "no" means "no." Got it?) Seeing head-games in the behavior of the opposite sex is like seeing UFOS: if you want to see them, you'll see them. Does that mean there are really UFOS and you saw one?  Maybe there is a simpler explanation.

All that being said, I do indeed take some issue with "science-backed" statements like "women are hard-wired to want men of status and dominance while men are hard-wired to want sex with many women of maximum visual attractiveness," which I first ran into while trying to become a participator on the site (perhaps ironically named?) Overcoming Bias.

I'm not saying that this could not possibly be true or isn't even a reasonable assumption in its reductionist, forgetting-for-the-moment-that-we-are-people-not-monkeys-with-brains-and-emotions-and-rationality sense--but this "science" is too-often purveyed with varying hints from the subtle to the blatant of "yeah bitch, I know what you want better than you do" (although, to be fair, perhaps the idea is just perverted by some loud jerks) so that I must say, If you really believe this, give me links to scientific journals.  Biology, psychology or sociology.  Show me the proof that women invariable want alpha males aka jerks*, and if they can't have that will find a beta male to boss around and manipulate**.  I'm sure some women do this, just like some men hit their wives or rape acquaintances or just call anything that sleeps with someone-but-not-them a whore.  I'm sure if I start digging too deeply into the cesspool of lower human nature I am not going to much like what I find.  But are we looking at a true, widespread social problem that can be clearly and tied in an un-confounded way to actual biological evidence?  I don't want anecdotes, I don't want your life experience, I want solid, discussed, peer-reviewed sociology.

It comes down once again to the nature/nurture debate.  I don't much think that nature disentangled from everything else is that singular a player in mate choice, because culture is to huge a variable to just handily remove from the equation, and sites like the one I am criticizing are feeding a sub-culture of sexual one-upping that I do not think would be such a battle between the sexes if it's participants did not seek to practice it as such.  But even if nature did have a strong hand in all of this, I am equally doubtful of our inability to use things likes like Brain and Emotion and Learning Hard Lessons By Screwing Up to overcome it, to the point where "what women want" and "what men want" is not some alien fact you'll never understand but something you should just try asking a person.

*There is plenty of anecdotal evidence that some women date jerks.

**I don't know that much anecdotal evidence of the bossing and manipulating aspect of this situation, but that may reflect on the circle in which I operate.

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